Legends and Hauntings

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There are a number of reported hauntings and local legends that circulate around Licking County.


First National Bank

Popular legend states that the well known face carved into the doorway of the former First National Bank Building at 1 S. Park Place belongs to Adam Kiesel. In 1868 Kiesel was a failing businessman who reportedly set fire to his grocery shack that stood directly east of the bank. [1] He was tried for arson and acquitted, but many locals were thankful that he had burned down unsightly structures from the public square. The architect who designed the bank building Thomas D. Jones carved this face as a reminder to Kiesel's public service to the bank and the community. [2] Other sources say the face may be that of Puck, the mischievous wood sprite immortalized in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream , but locals like to attribute it to Newark's first arsonist. [3]

Black Hand

Described as the most well-known legend in the county, the legend of the Black Hand tells the origin of the hand that once marked a cliff along the Licking River near Toboso. The legend describes a contest for the beautiful Native American princess Ahyoma (or Ayohmah). Two men, Wacousta and Lahkopis, held a competition for her hand in marriage by seeing who could bring her the most scalps. One version states that the younger warrior, Lahkopis, bested the elder, Wacousta, by one scalp. Wacousta, his pride wounded, supposedly chopped off his hand with a tomahawk and threw it against the cliff before disappearing into the forest, never to be seen again. Another version recalls that Wacousta was the winner, but the princess still preferred Lahkopis, so the two ran away together. Wacousta pursued the couple, and a fight ensued where Lahkopis cut off the hand of Wacousta before they all tumbled off the cliff. Wacousta's hand clung to the wall where it blackened and remained as a warning to the tribe. The hand-print no longer remains on the cliff. It was destroyed in 1828 during construction of the Ohio-Erie Canal. Some believe it may still be lying in the river below the cliff where the rocks had been blown away by dynamite.


Coca-Cola Bottle

Local legend claims that the famous design for the Coca-Cola bottle was done by Alexander Samuelson while he lived in Newark and worked as the superintendent of the Everett Glass Works.

Although he might have been responsible for the design (that has been challenged, as described below), it would not have happened at the Everett Glass Works. Samuelson had relocated to Terre Haute, Indiana before that to become superintendent of the Root Glass Company there.

In 1913, the Coca-Cola Company began searching for a distinctive bottle that would set their product apart from its competitors. It was to be a patented design, difficult to duplicate. Various glass companies competed in a 1915 contest, and the Root Glass Company won. The patent was made in November 1915, and Coca-Cola accepted it. It had been inspired by a simple line drawing of a coca bean in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Back in Newark, the American Bottle Company, a later name of the Everett Glass Works, was one of the first glass companies to go into production of the bottle. That company was later sold to the Owens Glass Company and transferred to Fairmont, West Virginia.

The daughters of Samuelson, Amy and Olga, received a golden replica of the original bottle from the Coca-Cola Company on November 10, 1949 to celebrate the part their father had played in the success of the company. The girls were still living in Newark. This was just in time to highlight their father’s accomplishment in the newspapers for Newark’s Sesquicentennial in 1952.

In April 2007, Jeff Dean came forward to correct Newark’s history. He pointed out an article in the June/July 1986 issue of American Heritage called simply, “The Bottle.” It says the real designer was Dean’s grandfather, Earl R. Dean. As this version goes, Chapman J. Root, owner of the Root Glass Company, accepted the challenge to design the bottle. He called Earl Dean, T. Clyde Edwards, Roy Hurt and Alexander Samuelson into his office to discuss it. Dean was the mold shop supervisor who did the actual bottle designs. This was just another job to him. Edwards was the company auditor, and Hurt was the secretary. Samuelson was the plant superintendent.

Six months before Earl Dean died in 1971, he gave an interview about the bottle’s design. He said that after C. J. Root read the letter from Coca-Cola, Samuelson asked, “What is Coca-Cola made of?” Dean said in his interview, “This is the first, last, and only word or thing or action that Samuelson made, connected with the Coca-Cola bottle.” It was Dean and Edwards who made a trip to the library to find information on coca. Since photocopiers were not yet invented, Dean made his own sketch of the coca bean from the encyclopedia and showed it to C. J. Root. Dean worked on the design at home and set up the molds the next morning. He drew more sketches to submit for the patent application.

Since there was some controversy years later over who designed the bottle, a man named John Zabowski was hired by C. J. Root’s grandson to investigate. The grandson had already recognized Dean as the designer in a 1971 booklet. Zabowski spent several hours with Samuelson’s family, and came away convinced that Dean was the true designer. Patents were often assigned to some company official. In fact, when the first patent came up for renewal in 1923, it was Chapman J. Root who got credit. Then yet another name was assigned in 1937.

To confuse matters further, a publication of the Coca-Cola Company itself, called The Refresher, from May-June 1967, ran an article about the first hobble-skirt bottle being returned to the company’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia by William Samuelson, son of Alexander. It had been passed down to him when his father died in 1934. The article named Alexander as the designer. They ran the same article in another publication called, The Coca-Cola Bottler in June 1967. The company even made a donation to the Newark Chapter of the American Cancer Society in his memory. Prior to William Samuelson donating the bottle to Coca-Cola, he asked his neighbor in Newark, John E. Black, to photograph it. Black donated that photograph and copies of relevant articles to The Works Museum in Newark.

Regardless of who designed the bottle, it has become the most familiar product package in the world. A plaque was erected on April 19, 1994 at the original Root Glass Company site at Third and Vorhees Streets in Terre Haute, Indiana, which reads, “Birthplace of the Coca-Cola Bottle. World famous trademark created in 1915 on this site at Root Glass Company, by Chapman J. Root, T. Clyde Edwards, Earl R. Dean, and Alexander Samuelson. Bottle design selected in national competition.” [4] [5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]


Underground Railroad

History recounts that a old cabin located off Brushy Fork Road, in Newark, was once a safehouse on the Underground Railroad. Slaves began escaping slavery to the North in 1793, after the first Fugitive Slave law was passed in Congress. The house is near the bed of the Erie Canal and the railroad, which were two popular avenues in the days of the Underground Railroad. [16]

Lincoln's Hat

Legend states that President Abraham Lincoln once lost his beaver top hat in Newark while passing through on the train on his way to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration.(8) On Valentine’s Day in 1861, a strong storm came through the city, swept the hat off Lincoln’s head, and deposited it on the farm of Daniel Z. Forry. (9) It was an almost new hat given to him by a friend in New York. Four or five thousand people waited to see Lincoln at Union Station in Newark where he intended to make a short speech, but that was not possible due to the tight schedule, except for his apology for lacking his hat.

Nine year old Zelora Forry walked home with his father, Daniel, after the train left. He was a childhood friend of Johnny Clem. Zelora found the hat in their field just west of Raccoon Creek, which was the future site of the Wehrle Stove Factory. During his childhood years, the hat was stored in the family’s attic and brought out occasionally for the children to play dress-up. When he finally died in 1934, he left the hat to his son, Daniel Z. Forry. In 1957, Daniel Z. Forry left it in a vault at the Licking County Building and Savings Company, where it was brought out for special events. His wife, Olive Forry, often took it to her third grade classroom to pass the story on to her students.

On September 27, 1996, Daniel S. Forry, III removed the hat from the bank vault and took it home with him to Kentucky. It was very fragile and had become a liability issue for the bank. Forry has tried to find a proper home for it in museums, including the Smithsonian, but they will not accept it without authentication of the hat and the story. No official record of the event has been found. Nevertheless, the hat rests at his home under a glass case with temperature and humidity controls.[17]


The Black Hand

Described as the most well known legend in the county, the legend of the Black Hand tells the origin of the hand that once marked a cliff along the Licking River near Toboso. [18] The legend originated through a contest about the beautiful Native American princess Ahyoma (or Ayohmah). Two men, Wacousta and Lahkopis, had a competition for her hand in marriage to see who could bring her the most scalps. One version states that the the younger warrior Lahkopis bested the elder Wacousta by one scalp. Wacousta, his pride wounded, supposedly chopped off his hand off with a tomahawk and through it against the cliff before disappearing into the forest. Another version recalls that Wacousta was the winner, but the princess still prefers Lahkopis and the two run away together. Wacousta pursues the couple and a fight ensues where Lahkopis cuts off the hand of Wacousta before they all tumble off of the cliff. Wacousta's hand clung to the wall where is blackened and remained as warning to the tribe. Despite the legends, the hand-print no longer remains and was destroyed in 1828 during construction of the Ohio-Erie Canal.

Totem Pole

A totem pole erected at the corner of Front Street and Everett Avenue was dedicated in 1962 to ward off flooding in Newark.[19]

At dusk on June 1, 1962, a 35-foot totem pole provided by the Ohio Power Company and carved by Vernon Seifert, a carver from Anchorage, Alaska, was dedicated in a ceremony directed by the Rising River Association.[20]The Rising River Association, a social group of local business men, hired Mr. Siefert to fashion four figures into the pole.[21] Together the colorful figures would reportedly prevent another flood.[22] Near the bottom of the pole is a line signifying the high water level of floodwaters at the site on January 21, 1959.[23]


The Captain's Ghost

Canal Street in downtown Newark stands where the Erie Canal once ran through Newark. As a result, many captains would stop to eat and drink in Newark and stay in the rooming houses. One captain who was staying in the Dent Building was robbed, murdered and thrown out of the window into the canal. Legend has that after that, the building could not continue to be used as a rooming house because the "Captain's Ghost" still walked the second floor, restless because his murderers were found. [24]

The Buckingham House

Now occupied by the Licking County Historical Society, the Buckingham House once belonged to Judge Jerome Buckingham. When it was moved from its original location near Park National Bank and the old Carroll's Department Store to its present location beside the Heisey Museum off of West Main Street, there were a number of strange accidents that accompanied the move. The truck's axle bent, pieces of the home fell and it took much longer for the home to be moved and secured. After it was finally installed, caretakers and guests have witnessed some spooky incidents around the home. Judge Jerome's private bedroom is always drafty because legend claims his presence is still there, and some say you can hear footsteps coming down the hall. Also sometimes doors and windows open and close all by themselves, despite being locked. A curator has claimed to see muddy footsteps in the hall that ended mysteriously in the dining room, and in 1996 a bride at a wedding receptions is believed to have seen Jerome's specter at the top of the staircase. [24] Moreover, the current location of the house stands where Newark's original graveyard stood, the Sixth Street Cemetery. [24]

Hudson Avenue Bomber Crash

The legend of the 1942 Bomber Crash on Hudson Ave that killed eight men, continues to linger on years after the crash. The current owner of the home on Hudson Ave believes that spirits of two men killed in the crash maintain a presence in her home, specifically Captain Lawrence Lawver and Col. Douglas Kilpatrick, the co-pilot and pilot of the crash. [25] She has noticed that the spirits routinely tilt picture frames on the walls and break light bulbs. Bobbi Fyre, the owner of the home has reported that her son has seen the ghost of Kilpatrick in the mirror and even interacted with him.

Prospect Place

Locals claim that an old mansion, known as Prospect Place in Trinway, is haunted. Built in 1856, the 29 room mansion currently houses the G.W. Adams Educational Center, a nonprofit organization established in 2005 by the current owner and decedent of the builder George Adams. [26] People have claimed to hear voices and footsteps, and many have seen full body apparitions. Some of the legends include: the ghost a bounty hunter, murdered by the servants in the hall, who wanders the halls looking for lost slaves; the ghost of a servant girl who fell from the balcony; and the ghost of Anna Adams-Cox, the daughter of George Washington Adams who died in 1924. [27] Prospect Place was featured on a 2010 episode of Ghost Hunters, and served as one of the stations for the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.

Pine Bluff

An old house on Pine Bluff Road near Fallsburg, is said to be haunted by the ghost of a crazy dentist who murdered his family and buried them in the back yard. People have claimed to see balls of floating light around the property or inside the house itself. [28]

Buxton Inn

The Buxton Inn in Granville, is one of the most well known haunted locations in Ohio. The inn was built in 1812 by Orrin Granger, and originally known as "The Tavern", a mail delivery depot and stagecoach stop on the Columbus-Newark line. It is believed to be the oldest continuously operating inn in Ohio. [29] The name was given by a Major Buxton, who operated the inn from 1865 to 1905. Another owner, Ethel (Bonnie) Bounell who ran the inn from 1934-1960 is one of the inn's more famous ghosts, who died in the inn in Room Nine. Known as "The Lady in Blue" multiple witnesses have seen her cross the outdoor balcony between the upper story rooms then vanish. The current owner of the inn has also felt her presence and even smelled her perfume when sitting in Bounell's old office. Others have also reported seeing the presence of Major Buxton around the inn, and a room full of men where the coach drivers had once ate and slept. [30]

Johnstown Witch

The legend of the Johnstown Witch is that of Sarah Lovina Emerson, a young girl buried in the Concord Cemetery in Johnstown in 1846. Sarah tragically died of a house fire at the age of 13. [31] A number accounts about the fire have circulated over the years; the first was that she was deranged and set the blaze herself; it was set intentionally by an intruder; or her long skirt caught on fire from an oil lamp. After her death, Sarah's parents sold their house and left the county. Sarah was known to have 'fits', which have populated legend and some believe that she had special powers, and have led visitors to leave presents on her grave as gifts to please the "Johnstown Witch."

Denison University

Two buildings on Denison's campus are said to be haunted. The first building is the Chamberlin Lodge, which is used for student housing. Many reports have recounted a ghostly presence that puts a hand on someone's shoulder. The William Howard Doane Library is another location on the campus that has reported a supernatural presence. The library's seventh floor, which now holds the university archives, was once a study room used by students to work, and perhaps nap. According to the legend, a ghostly woman in a long dress would carry a ruler and hit students if they fell asleep. [32]

Licking County Children's Home

The Licking County Children's Home is one of the known haunted locations in downtown Newark. One legend surrounds its cemetery, on East Main Street. The story maintains that a man was killed in the graveyard in the early 1900s and his ghost can be seen walking across the field. The home for orphaned children closed in 1975, and was used by the Licking County Genealogical Society from 1975 to 2000. A ghostly presence could also be felt in Room 209. [32] Members of the Genealogical Society attribute most of the hauntings to "Old Willie" a six year old named Willie Brown who died of consumption (tuberculosis) in July 1890. [33]


  1. Thompson, J. (1998, March 20). Newark's first arsonist still overlooks Courthouse Square. The Newark Advocate
  2. The First National Bank 1865-1948. (1948). Folder Banks and Banking, Local History Vertical File, Licking County Library, Newark, Ohio.
  3. Keirns, A. (2006, March 9). Newark's mysterious stone face. Our Town.
  4. Bahn, Ronnie D. “Ohioan’s Distinctive Design Lasting; Familiar around the World,” Columbus Dispatch Magazine, Jan. 7, 1973, pp. 8-11.
  5. “Coca-Cola; Bottle and Logo Design,” Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coca-Cola, Apr. 4, 2007.
  6. “Coca-Cola Bottle Birthplace,” Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/27005181@N00/3564283668 Dean, Jeff. E-mail with Dan Fleming, Apr. 4, 2007.
  7. “Designs Coke Bottle Here,” Newark Advocate and American Tribune, Aug. 18, 1952, p. 5L.
  8. “First Coke Bottle,” Newark Advocate and American Tribune, Aug. 18, 1952, p. 4K.
  9. Fleming, Dan. “The Coca -Cola bottle design has controversy,” in The Newark Advocate, Mar. 30, 2008.
  10. Fleming, Dan. Journey through 200 Years; Vintage Vignettes from Licking County, Ohio. Newark, Ohio: Licking County Bicentennial Commission, 2009.
  11. “A Grande Dame Comes Home,” The Refresher, May-June 1967, pp. 8-10.
  12. Huff, W. Thomas. “Tom’s Time Capsule: Newark Man’s Drawing Made Cokes Known All over the World,” 50 Plus, Aug. 29-Sept. 11, 1997.
  13. “Inventory, Earl R. Dean Collection,” Vigo County Public Library: www.vigo.lib.in.us/vcplarchive/inventories/business/earldean.htm, Apr. 4, 2007.
  14. Lundy, Betty Mussell. “The Bottle,” American Heritage, June/July 1986, pp. 98-101.
  15. Pancoast, Chalmers Lowell and Hazel Thomas Pancoast. Our Home Town Memories, Vol. 2. Newark, OH: 1959, p. 92.
  16. Wesley, K. (1990, May 7). Cabin may have been Underground Railroad station. The Newark Advocate
  17. Fleming, Dan and D. Robert Tharp. 2008. A History of Licking County, Ohio 1808-2008. Newark, Ohio: Licking County Bicentennial, Inc.
  18. Aumann, T. (2008, November 3). County's identity inspired by legend. The Newark Advocate, p. 1A.
  19. “Rising River Association erects totem pole.” 1962. The Newark Advocate, June 2
  20. Bergeman, R. 1971. “Totem pole works.” The Newark Advocate, July 19
  21. Bergeman, R. 1971. “Totem pole works.”The Newark Advocate, July 19
  22. Bergeman, R. 1971. “Totem pole works.” The Newark Advocate, July 19
  23. “Rising River Association erects totem pole.” 1962. The Newark Advocate, June 2
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2
  25. Kanclerz, J. (2013, March 20). Ghosts more than a story? The Newark Advocate.
  26. 'Ghost Hunters' investigates Muskingum County Landmark. (2008, March 28). The Newark Advocate.
  27. Muskingum County Ohio Ghosts and Hauntings - Prospect Place. (n.d.). Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  28. Pine Bluff. (2005). Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  29. Woodyard, C. (1992). Convivial Spirits: Haunted Inns, Taverns and Bars. In Haunted Ohio II: More ghostly tales from the Buckeye State. Beavercreek, OH: Kestrel Pub.
  30. Woodyard, C. (1997). They're Baaack. In Haunted Ohio IV: Restless spirits. Beavercreek, Ohio: Kestrel Publications.
  31. Jette, C. (2002, October 27). The legend of Sarah. Community Booster West.
  32. 32.0 32.1 Sudar, A. (2010, October 31). There's something strange in your neighborhood. The Newark Advocate, p. 1B.
  33. Thompson, J. (1996, November 1). Legends of Old Willie, Room 209, help make great tales. The Newark Advocate.